After North Texas law enforcement, neighbors and community members gathered to say goodbye to a Euless police officer killed in the line of duty Saturday, the community in New York — where he started his career — honored him Monday morning.
Officer David Hofer, 29, died Tuesday after he was shot in an exchange of gunfire with 22-year-old Jorge Gonzalez at J.A. Carr Park in Euless. Gonzalez also died in the shootout.
"David's life ended with him being the best police officer he could be on that day, at that time, and in that situation. Of that, there is no doubt," said Euless Police Chief Mike Brown.
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Hofer worked for five years in the NYPD before joining the Euless Police Department in 2014. Dozens of NYPD officers were among those in attendance Saturday.
"Some of you travelled a few blocks to be here. Some of you travelled many miles, and there's a large congregation of officers who travelled from New York," Brown said. "You all came for the same purpose, to represent your departments and your communities in a show of support, solidarity, and love, for the ultimate sacrifice made by officer Davd S. Hofer."
Hundreds of officers from departments across the country filled an entire section of bleachers at Pennington Field. Across from them hundreds of North Texas residents filled the stands to pay their respects. Though they did not know his son, Hofer's father, Helmut, issued the crowd a challenge that would honor his son's legacy.
"David made the ultimate sacrifice by doing the job he loved, but there are many less dangerous things each of us can do in our communities to make them better," he said.
Hofer's father said his son will be rememberd for his selflessness, dry wit, and passion for life. It's that passion that brought Hofer and his fiance, Marta Danylyk together.
"To my sweet, sweet, Dave - how truly blessed I am to have gotten to know your beautiful soul. Each moment of the last four years was overflowing with laughter, joy, love, comfort, and resepect," Danylyk said. "Your genuine spitrit, selflessness, unique sense of humor, and pure heart are unmatched. You are one of a kind. You are loved. You are missed beyond meaning. It is my absolute honor and privelage to be the one you chose to love."
The celebration of Hofer's life included a 21-gun salute, a performance of 'Taps,' pipes and drums performing 'Amazing Grace,' and a flyover by Fort Worth Police Air 1.
Police officers from Grand Prairie, Hurst, North Richland Hills, Keller, Haltom City and Grapevine stepped in to patrol the city of Euless so members from the Euless Police Department could attend Hofer's memorial service at Pennington Field in Bedford.
David Hofer will be laid to rest Monday in New York City.
Thousands Line Procession Route to Pay Tribute
Hours before the public memorial began at Pennington Field, thousands of North Texans lined the procession route from Lucas Funeral Home in Hurst to the stadium in Bedford.
"He was a fiance. He was someone's son. He was someone's grandson. He was someone's brother," said Emily Mercer, a longtime resident. "God put it on my heart to bring our children out here to show the sacrifice these officers show daily."
Mercer, along with her family, passed out flags and balloons for people to hold along the procession route.
"He went to work daily and fought for us and supported us. He kept our streets safe," Mercer said. "He crossed over to the other side and now he's supporting us from up there."
When the procession made its way to Pennington Field, a sea of police officers on motorcycles entered the stadium first.
The motorcycles were followed by Euless Police units and a hearse carrying Hofer's body.
The display of support from fellow officers moved many in the crowd to tears.
"I was just crying. I was thinking how amazing the brotherhood and sisterhood of the police is," said onlooker Debbie McClendon.
"He was a 29-year-old kid who was ambushed at a park," said Euless resident Karen Killian. "My heart aches for his family and the city of Euless."
Procession, Memorial for Euless Ofc. David Hofer
As the somber, yet powerful parade of blue lights passed by her, Lucy Hanson proudly held the sign she and her classmates at River Trail Elementary in Fort Worth made this week – the most heartfelt way they could think to say thanks to a hero.
"They put their names and some of them put little messages on there," said mother Kathy Hanson.
"From the times our kids were little, we'd teach them about the importance of police officers and trust in them. So, for them to really recognize it, sometimes they see things on the news and the movies, but this hits home. This makes it real for them," Kathy Hanson added.
Don Binnicker, a Euless resident and the father of a police officer, said his heart goes out to Hofer's family and coworkers. He said he hopes seeing the turnout, the signs and flags helped lift their spirits.
"I was proud to see people from all over the country here to support him as well," Binnicker said.
And he hopes that support will continue to be there for all police officers long after Saturday.
Anyone who wants to donate to Hofer's family can do so at a gofundme page set up by the Euless Police Benevolent Organization or by mailing a check — payable to EPBO — to the organization at:
My Credit Union
1014 N. Industrial Blvd.
Euless, TX 76039
NBC 5's Tim Ciesco, Chris Jose, Cory Smith and Kevin Young contributed to this report.